Puerto Williams, on Navarino Island in Chile's Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region, is considered the southernmost city in the world. Nestled on the northern shore of the Beagle Channel, near the Chilean Antarctic territory, its location makes it a vital center for Antarctic research and logistics.
Puerto Williams is situated on Navarino Island, Tierra del Fuego, in the southern part of Chile's Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region and is the capital of the Commune of Cabo de Hornos.
Considered the southernmost city in the world, the city is nestled on the northern shore of the Beagle Channel, near the Chilean Antarctic territory. As of the last available data, Puerto Williams has a population of approximately 2,500 residents.
The city has served primarily as a naval base for Chile, and the Chilean Navy runs the Guardiamarina Zañartu Airport and hospital, as well as nearby meteorological stations. Since the late 20th century, the number of navy personnel has decreased in Puerto Williams, and the civilian population has increased.
In that period, tourism and support of scientific research have contributed to increased economic activity. The city is also a base for eco-tourism and adventure activities, including boat tours of the Beagle Channel and wildlife observation.
The city was founded in 1953 and was initially named Puerto Luisa. It later became Puerto Williams in honor of John Williams, a British navy captain who explored the region in the early 19th century. Puerto Williams has historical significance as a location that supported early maritime explorations and played a crucial role in Antarctic expeditions.
The city pays tribute to its maritime legacy, with the Yelcho, a historic vessel, on display as a testament to its nautical history. This ship gained fame for rescuing Sir Ernest Shackleton's crew from Elephant Island during the famous 1916 Antarctic expedition.
Location and Biodiversity
Puerto Williams is often referred to as the "Gateway to Antarctica." Its strategic location makes it a vital center for Antarctic research and logistics. The city's port and airport facilities support scientific expeditions, making it a hub for those embarking on journeys to the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.
Puerto Williams is known for its remarkable location in the Fuegian Archipelago, surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes of the Dientes de Navarino mountain range. It's part of the subpolar climate region, characterized by its pristine wilderness, fjords, and unique biodiversity. The Beagle Channel, which separates Chile from Argentina, lies to the north of the town.
With its unique climate and landscapes, Tierra del Fuego is home to rich biodiversity. The Martial Mountains are home to various animals, including guanacos, foxes, and condors. The Beagle Channel is home to diverse marine life, including dolphins, whales, and seals.